Archives for November 2022

139 – Refining Retention After Massive Martial Arts Business Growth

The last time we spoke to Lindsay Guy, we discussed how he tripled his karate school in record time. Today we chat about refining retention to maintain this massive growth.


  • How retention impacts martial arts business growth 
  • Keeping martial arts classes fun to stimulate young students
  • Reaching out to parents on how to keep kids from quitting martial arts
  • Setting up your martial arts pro shop for profit
  • Keys to leaving a lasting martial arts legacy
  • And more

*Need help growing your martial arts school? Start Here.



GEORGE:  It's George Fourie. Welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast. Today I have a repeat guest with me, Lindsay Guy from Guy's Karate School. Now if you recall episode 117, I had Lindsay Guy on and we spoke about how he had 3x’d his martial arts business moving past the Big C, we'll call it the Big C.

The YouTube and social media channels don't like us talking about what it is, although we probably mentioned it in the episode. Anyway, I wanted to catch up with Lindsay just to see how things are going right now. We spoke about how he 3x’d his business.

I wanted to see where he is now, how things are going, and how he handled the growth. We talked a bit about retention, and a little bit about marketing and it was just a great martial arts conversation. Now, I must warn you, Lindsay is super authentic and as he says, he's got no switch and he speaks very straightforwardly.

And we have this sense of humor where we look for little gaps and opportunities to have a go and have a bit of fun and fun with each other. So that might come out in some of the comments from him and me. Don't take it to heart. 

It's probably easier if you watch the episode because Lindsay's face explains his sense of humor. But yeah, one of my favorite humans to speak to when it comes to a sense of humor and having fun. 

So a lot of fun in this episode and a lot of value. So jump in episode 139. So head over to the website, You can download the transcript and all the resources mentioned in this episode. 

And do me a favor, if you get some good value out of this episode, please share it with someone you love, someone you care about, a martial arts instructor, or martial arts school owner. So they'll get as much value from it as you will.

All right, let's jump in. Lindsay Guy, welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast. Actually, welcome back to the Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast.

LINDSAY:  Thanks, George. Thanks for having me on again.

GEORGE:  Awesome. So last time we spoke in episode 117, we talked about how you 3x'd your martial arts business coming out of the Big C, we'll just call it the Big C, not we'll be talking about, that way YouTube still likes us and we are just chatting about the journey, a bit about working together in Partners, but just how you've progressed and where you're at. 

And I thought I'd have you back on being the funniest guy in the karate business. It's always good to have you on. It makes me a bit nervous when I have you on because I don't know, in conversations with you, I don't know what I'm going to get, which is the fun part. So this is good. So yeah, I thought I'd have you back on and see where the journey is at.

LINDSAY:  Excellent. Where would you like to start?

GEORGE:  How's business going? Weird, last time we spoke, so we were coming out of the rough batch, you got business booming and things are going well. How's the journey evolved from when we last spoke?

LINDSAY:  Our business has been continually evolving. It's been changing. We've made a lot of changes because what happens is when you get rapid growth in a business, you start to realize then all the things you either don't have in place or you should have in place, you start to work out some new things that you can add. 

One of the biggest problems, when you have rapid growth, is retention. So trying to keep all of those people, put systems in place, which is going to allow those people to stay. And over that time since we last spoke, which has been nearly probably nearly two years. 

We have been continually changing our systems to maintain that retention and maintain growth. There's no good having a system, a mouse on a wheel that's continually putting people in and continually losing people at the other end. Your business just doesn't grow that way. 

And I'm sure there are many businesses out there, many martial arts schools that do just that. However, we've had to sit down and work out why we lose people and what we can do to prevent that from happening. And that's why our systems have come into place now on changing that. 

So people feel quite comfortable, quite happy to come. Once you stop exciting people from coming to karate or to come to any martial arts, that's when they start to drop out. So we've got to maintain that excitement with our students. We've got to maintain the enthusiasm for them to want to come.

GEORGE:  All right. So I would like to dive deeper into that because if I always look at the first problem and the first time I typically work with anyone or somebody who reaches out to me it's, “Hey, we need more students.” It's always the first thing. 

There are always layers to that because there's always way more to just that. There's the pricing and the offers, and that's the one thing to fix. Now you fix that problem, right? You don't have so much of a marketing problem anymore.

LINDSAY:  We don't have a marketing problem at all. Every single time that we put a marketing campaign out, we get students. It's easy. We just go, “Look, okay, we need 10 more students. Let's put a marketing campaign out and get 10 more students.” Marketing and attracting students now is never a worry on my mind.

I just don't have that worry any longer where a lot of martial arts people that I speak to say, “I just can't get students.” “Well, what are you doing?” And most times they'll tell you, “Well, we're not doing anything,” or, “Yeah, we do ads.” Do you? Great. 

But of course, it's the content with the ad, not the ad. And you've got to get the right content. And how have we got the right content? Well, we've got the right content in a lot of ways. One was a lot of trial and error. But secondly, is speaking to other people who have actually got the right formula and just copying it. 

There's no point in having a formula that works than me saying, “Well, I don't think it'll work for me in my town.” So I just do exactly what all the other guys are doing that are attracting students. Guess what? It's like a miracle. It works.

GEORGE:  All right, cool. So we spend a lot of time on the formula, the framework, how to structure ads, and making sure that it works. So what's more important to look at is this next step and chat a bit about what you've done to help mitigate and fix the retention side.

LINDSAY:  That is a really hard question to answer because there are a multitude of things that we've had to do to keep students here. One thing that I'm always telling my junior instructors is that one thing that will keep people in your center first is for them to be… 

This is probably not the correct word, but I will use it anyway. Entertained. We have to entertain our students. Now you're going to get a lot of traditionalists out there going, “Oh no, you never do that. That's just breaking complete tradition.”

Now I spent the weekend with a bunch of traditionalists and they're getting 20 and 30 students in their dojos. It's because kids don't have that type of commitment anymore. They don't have the type of patience to go through traditional karate. I don't know whether they ever did. 

Because I remember when I was training, we never had a lot of children. They'd drop out as quickly as they'd start simply because the boredom would set in backward and forwards across a hall for an hour and a half doing basics. So today, we like to take a Wiggles approach.

The Wiggles, you take their songs, for instance, they're never going to be top 40. But what keeps people buying Wiggles music? What keeps people going to Wiggles concerts is the entertaining side of it. So you've got that side where the children are entertained. They want to keep coming back because they like the environment that we would use for them. 

Do we clown around? No, we teach karate to these children. But do we tell them that they're doing fantastic? Do we have a bit of a wiggle on that's like, “Man, that's fantastic.” Yes, we do. And I'm now teaching all of my students that same thing. So let's pass this on to our other students. 

So if we can get students inside the dojo making other students feel like they want to come back because they're creating friendships, they're having fun with each other in the dojo, they will continue to come back to my center.

Now, why do we need them to come back? One, the better the retention, the less expense there is, and the more money we make because we're not spending a lot of money on advertising because we've got critical retention, so we can reduce our spending on our advertising. And then secondly, people that are stopping, the longer they stop, the more friends they refer us to. 

And of course, our business grows then. So it just makes good sense. Now, it depends on what you want to do. If you want to teach pure traditional karate and you want to have 10 or 15 students in your hall or your center, that's absolutely great because I love traditional karate. 

I'm a real traditionalist at heart. But what I want to do is to treat it as a business. I want to make money out of this. I want to be able to support myself and my family by doing what I love doing, which is teaching karate.

Now if I have to kick off some of those old beliefs to be able to do that, I'm quite happy to kick off some of those old beliefs and keep people inside my center. And that's what we do every day. We come and teach karate and we love it. It's a dream. 

Imagine getting to the stage and going, “I've been doing karate for 40 years. I absolutely love karate.” Now I get to do it every day and someone's paying me to do it. I used to pay to do it once, but now someone's paying me to do it. It's fabulous.

GEORGE:  That's so good. Especially, and you're talking about being a purist at heart. Part of adapting is just, you talk about the entertainment side, there's no reason why it can't be both.

In fact, teaching has probably evolved. To teach it in a way that kids and younger people are learning and if they're entertained but they're learning the skills while they're getting entertained, that's a good thing. I'll tell you a relevant story. I took my daughter to a music class. 

Now I remember when I was a kid, my mom was cruel in a way. She forced me to play the recorder. I said, “Mom, this is not cool.” Three years in, I was forced to play guitar. Then I played the keyboard and then I ended up playing drums. It was a horrific experience.

And anyway, so I enrolled my daughter in what I thought was a drumming class. But I arrived there and it was a piano class. I thought, “Okay, well let's see where this goes.” And my wife did the enrollments, not me. 

Anyway, I was like, “Are we going to play drums?” And so I walked in and I just saw pianos all around and I was like, “Where're the drums? Are they going to play drums?” He said, “Maybe.” But this teacher wowed me in a way that I haven't been wowed in a long time because his teaching methodology was just magnificent.

Obviously, my daughter was a bit nervous, she's 4 years old, but he sat her down and he started dancing. So just to a rhythm. And so he starts dancing and then he brings out all these characters and then he's got this frog and that frog, and they gamified the entire experience for the child. 

And so she started 10 minutes shy, anxious, and 15 minutes in, she was all over it and completely wowed by the experience. And for me, it was just looking at, “Wow, okay.” Things have come a long way and people are realizing how just being entertaining, I could see what he was teaching her. 

For her, it was just fun and games, but it was education disguised as entertainment. In the martial arts space, you can take a lot from that. You can be the purist and teach all the right things and just make sure kids are entertained.

Martial Arts Business Growth

LINDSAY:  See, I need to teach martial arts and I like to have a good standard. I'm a bit like a tradesman looking at his work. I want to be able to come away saying, “I've done a fantastic job there with that particular task that I did.” Now if I can look at my karate students and go, “Wow, they're really, really coming on with their standard.” 

It's exactly the same as that tradesman looking at the finished job.

The only way that I can produce that standard is to keep them here long enough. Now if every two weeks I'm turning over my school base, there's no way that I'm ever going to produce a standard. So for me to produce a standard, I got to keep the kids. 

To keep the kids, I got to get away from some of those old-fashioned ideas about what should be happening inside a traditional class. So tradition, where is that starting? Well, I might be starting my own tradition, but I know now a formula that is helping us keep students, which is helping our students grow. And I can look at my students and now say, “I'm very, very happy with the standard that we're producing.”

At the end of it all, that's all that matters. It's producing great students that you can feel proud to say that those guys come from our center and I'm making sure that all of my instructors, whether they be our junior instructors because we have great junior instructors and a great leadership program now and I'm always onto those guys and people work well with praise. 

So I'm always telling them, “Make sure you high-five the guys. Make sure that your knucklesMake sure that every kid on that floor on that day knows they've done a great job.” How? Tell them that you're doing a great job. That is fantastic. What a great effort. And at the end of the class just go, “You guys need to congratulate yourself because not only was your standard great, your behavior was fantastic today. Give yourself a hand.”

And sometimes I even say to the parents, “What do you think, parents? You think the kids have all been good today and well-behaved?” And the parents go, “Yeah.” And of course, acknowledgment from a parent to a kid is huge as well. 

For a parent to say, “We think you've done really well today mate,” because there are so many kids out there today who don't get praise. It's important that children receive praise.

A lot of times, the only time they ever get spoken to is when they're doing something wrong. We need to change that. We need to tell children that they're special. We need to tell kids how good they are. 

We need to tell the kids that they're appreciated and that they are going to be okay. And that's what we're trying to produce here. That atmosphere of you're going to be okay, you're doing well. Keep going.

Because I talk to people, people talk about the black belt and say, “You know what the difference between a black belt and a white belt is?” And they go, “Oh, you've trained really hard.” Yeah, that's one thing, but that's not really it. 

What it is, is that the black belt person just trained longer than the white belt person. They've just attended more lessons and that's really all it is. There's nothing else to it.

They've just attended more lessons and we know you get better if you attend more lessons. And when you get better then eventually you achieve a black belt. So that's the type of thing we try to produce with our parents. 

We've even put in our new getting started brochures now. The excuse is that parents are actually going to get from their kids and why the kids are going to tell them they don't want to come anymore. So we pre-warn them, and said to them, “We've got a welcome brochure and we've got a whole page in there dedicated to why kids quit karate.” 

Sometimes kids don't quit karate. Sometimes it's parents that quit karate. Sometimes they quit bringing them. And there are a lot of reasons why that happens. Sometimes they just get tired of bringing them.

GEORGE:  Or they start training in Jiu-Jitsu.

LINDSAY:  Look, there'd be more people going the other way to be honest with you but…

GEORGE:  Apologies, that was a bit of a private joke inserted into a serious matter. Apologies to all my karate friends. To add flavor to where my comment just comes from, what is your take on Jiu-Jitsu, Lindsay?

LINDSAY:  I don't mind Jiu-Jitsu. I don't mind at all. It's actually a very, very good sport. I have rheumatoid arthritis so it's not good to have my joints manipulated and twisted too regularly. So that's why I don't like it. 

Because every time I've had a session and I come away with, “Oh man, my wrist's sore, my arm's sore, my elbow's sore.” So I just don't want to do that. My young guys on the floor do it all the time. 

We've got a couple of Jiu-Jitsu guys here and they get on the floor and my son Lockie is 22 and 22 stone and he gets on the floor and has a wrestle with the boys and absolutely loves it. So it's great.

GEORGE:  100%. As I said, it was a bit of a private joke, but Lindsay likes to give me hassles about cuddling and Jiu-Jitsu and so I thought I'd just get the one up.

LINDSAY:  George, I would never say anything like that to you. George's just making all that up now. Getting back to our conversation about parents, parents need to know that their kids are going to come up at some point in their karate training and that they're going to come up and tell them that they don't want to come anymore. Not all kids. 

I have parents that come and say, “I can't wait to come.” Every day, they're going, “Can we go to karate today? Is karate today? Is it karate today?” Simply because they just love coming. But we have those other kids that they're just half on, half off and they come up with all sorts of excuses, and we know what keeps them away. 

We know technology is in everybody's houses. They've got computers, they've got tablets, they've got phones, they've got PlayStations. 

Now if I was a kid and the parents said, “You're going to go to karate today,” and the kid's on his PlayStation in the middle of a game, it's pretty hard to drag him away from that sometimes. And then all of a sudden they go, “No, don't feel like going today. I'm a bit sick. Got a bit of a tummy ache, got a bit of a headache. There's something wrong with me. The reason why I don't want to go.” 

There are about 101 reasons I'd reckon that kids will give you that they don't want to go. But like us, once you get them here and you get them out the floor, they have a ball. So parents don't give up on their kids too easily because if we allow our kids after their first or second time just to say, “I don't want to do that anymore,” you go, “All right mate, well, what do you want to do?” I want to do this. Okay, we'll enroll you in that. I guarantee it won't be long before they're giving you the same excuses for that.

We have to show our children that if we commit to something, we've got to stay committed for a period of time. Because if we don't, what we're telling our children, it's okay to give up on anything whenever something gets too hard. 

All of a sudden, kids then go, “I don't want to do this. It's too hard.” All right, just give up then, mate instead of saying to the children, no, persevere. Some parents are like, “Whew, I was hoping you were going to say that. I don't have to take you anymore. I don't have to spend the money. Not that I could afford it anyway. Couldn't afford it before.” You can edit that bit out if you want. I get that all the time.

GEORGE:  We edit nothing in this podcast.

LINDSAY:  Okay. There's not one martial artist that would listen to this podcast that wouldn't tell you that or get the same excuses. Every one of us gets the same excuses from our students, but it's up to us to educate also. Not just the students but the parents. 

You're going to get it. I guarantee you, once you get it, still keep bringing them. Don't take their excuse, “I don't want to go because I've got a headache today.”

GEORGE:  Yeah, and so you bring up a good point, that most martial artists are going to know these are the excuses that are going to come up. It's going to come up because you get it all the time. So having that knowledge, it's probably worth having that conversation before it comes up. 

Because it's not if, it's when it's going to happen. So knowing that, it's if someone's really educated in sales, they know the objections that are going to come up. And so before while they're talking to you, they've already answered the objections that might come up and it just makes it easier for them to do business in the end.

So you're in the same situation where having the conversation with parents early, it's not if they're going to quit, they want to quit, it's when, and they're going to tell you that they don't want to come, there's going to be something more important. Or they're going to feel like they want to do the PlayStation etc. because it's not easy. 

Good things in life aren't easy and you need some resilience to push through and get that done. Actually spoke with Michael Scott about this yesterday as well about resilience. So it's just important to know it's coming, we might as well work on how we're going to remove that.

LINDSAY:  Well, we like to point out the page in the welcome pack which says, “Why Kids Quit Karate And What You Can Do About It.” That's the title. So we like to point out that a parent should need to read that section.

GEORGE:  Have you got your welcome pack in front of you?


GEORGE:  I just want to see.

LINDSAY:  This is the latest version. We do have another version, but because our center has changed and our business has changed, we've had to do some modifications to the brochure, add some things, and take some things out. We've done some really great things in the center. We've put our pro shop in, now we had t-shirts, we had hoodies, we had all of those types of things for sale, but we had them in plastic tubs in these cubes. 

And we had one hanging up on a coat hanger and we're hardly selling any. And we went to, I don't know when that was, July, up to Ross Cameron‘s CrossFit? Cross Fight? CrossFit? Was it Cross Fight?

GEORGE:  FightCross for the Partners Intensive.

LINDSAY:  FightCross. He'd be very happy with me remembering that. FightCross studio and he had all his pro shops set out. So when people walk through, all they had to do was just look to their right and all of a sudden there's all the gear that they could purchase. 

And I went, “Well, that looks fabulous.” And I said to Ross, “Do you have it licensed, this look?” And he went, “No,” I said, “Good because I'm going to steal it then.” And we've put the same wood grain look up, we've got all our T-shirts, our hoodies, our shorts, our caps, our singlets, everything now hanging on coat hangers. So when people walk into the dojo, they walk straight past it. 

Every single day now, I'm seeing empty coat hangers on the front bench from where people have purchased stuff and I'm just now putting in more orders for more gear. We weren't selling hardly any. And as soon as I put it out there on display, people are now starting to buy it. You wouldn't think that's rocket science, would you?

GEORGE:  They see it, they buy it.

LINDSAY:  They see it, they buy it. And Ross might have pointed it out to me at the time. He said, “When you go to places like a fun park, a theme park, when you get off the ride, where's the first place they walk you through? It's the gift shop.” To get off the ride and get it back out into the theme park, you go through the gift shop. 

There's all the gear, people are buying stuff. Why? Because the kids nagged them. But I have parents going, “Oh, that looks really good. I'll get Johnny one of those.” Well, don't wait, it might not be available next week. Grab one now while you're here.

GEORGE:  I love that. So we've been working together for quite some time and there's been a significant shift in your business but in your outlook on going about the company. And if I recall now in episode 117 when we were talking, there was a heavy low moment and it was in the midst of COVID.


GEORGE:  And then you changed things around and with that massive growth so fast, you'd had to look at the retention side because you'd had all these young new students coming through. How do you feel your thinking around the business has changed since prior to that time with the Big C and where you are at now and looking forward?

Martial Arts Business Growth

LINDSAY:  I was speaking to people at the weekend at a seminar we're at in Melbourne and they were telling me, “Oh, COVID absolutely killed us and we really haven't hit back since then.” And when I asked some of those people, “What did you do during COVID?” And they said, “Oh, well we did what everybody else did, we closed down.” Okay. 

See, what we did here and it wasn't my thinking because my thinking originally would've been to just close the business everybody else did.

But because I was involved in a network of martial artists that twice a week we were speaking at Zoom meetings, I realized that I had to close the doors to the dojo, but not close the business. 

So during COVID, we went on a marketing frenzy where we were spending money that we weren't earning so that we didn't have to get students through the door when we were to reopen. I was signing up people through packages. They were excellent deals. 

They were getting a uniform that they could wear at home if they wanted, wear down the shop. It doesn't matter where they were wearing it, but they couldn't wear it in my dojo because the government said you can't come in the door. 

So people then say to me, “So when are you starting back then?” And I go, “I don't know. No idea. That's up to the government. I have absolutely no clue when they allow me to reopen. But when we do, you've got a great deal to start back with.”

I once had someone say to me years ago, he had an agricultural business and he was doing extremely well. He was the busiest agricultural dealer in this town and we're going through a bit of a recession. And I said to him, “So how come you are so busy? Why are you surviving and some of the others are starting to go downhill?” 

And he said to me, “This is where people make mistakes. In hard times, the first thing they cut is their advertising budget. Cut your advertising budget, your sales go down.” He said, “Different from me, in the hard times, I increased my advertising budget,” and I'll always remember that. 

I reckon that was 20 years ago. And I'll always remember that talk from John saying to me in the hard times, you increase your advertising budget, not decrease it. And that's what we did. 

And it wasn't simply because all of those other things were going on, it was just simply the fact that I needed to assure I'd sign this lease. I had no money. I needed to assure that when the time came for us to reopen that we still had a business and it was going to be bigger than what it was before we stopped. 

So what we did was we kept in regular contact with our current student base that we had at the time and we're signing new people. And that's what we do today. We're always coming up with some special deal to get people to come to us.

I find it really hard to believe today people that tell me, “Oh, we just can't get students.” And it's generally because it's not that you can't get students, you're just not going about it the right way unless you live in a town of 20 people. I don't understand why you can't have, in retrospect, or in the ratio to your town a decent amount of students. 

I have people say, “Oh, you don't understand my area.” Oh, don't I? You've got a Woolworth there? Yeah. The prices of groceries in your town are the same as they are in mine. Yep. What's your fuel price? $2.30 a liter. Yep. 

What's the price of a Toyota in your town? Wow. It's the same as what it is in my town. And all those businesses are still surviving. Why can't you charge the same as everybody else is charging?

GEORGE:  I find it very dangerous when people talk collectively about an area or a town and make decisions for them because it normally comes from within. And the minute you talk about the town, well hang on, how many people are in this town? Did you talk to all of them? Do you understand their wants, their needs, and their feelings? 

It's a lot of people to be making decisions for. It's hard.

You are saying, “Well, people are struggling to get students.” Well, if somebody says that, then my question would be, “Well, when was the last time you made an offer to get students?” 

And to whom was it? Oh, we posted on our Facebook wall. Well right now, you might as well put a flyer on your windscreen outside. That's not enough. You do need to put your offers in front of enough people so that enough people can see them. 

And even if you did that really poorly, if you just made an offer every day, you would be getting students. But people can't sign up if there's no offer to sign up.

LINDSAY:  Absolutely. You've got to give them something… A reason to click. You've got to give them a reason to click on that button. I love the ads where I see them and people go, “Phone now.” I'll tell you, I'm sitting there at 11:00 at night going through Facebook. 

The last thing I'm going to be doing is picking up the phone and ringing some martial arts guy to start his classes. And you know what happens by tomorrow? That's all worn off.

You've forgotten about the ad you read yesterday, you've moved on, and you're now worried about I've got to pick the kids up from school at 3:00. You're no longer considering enrolling them in anything. But if you've got a button there that says, “Click here, send us a message,” right this minute, people do it. 

They just go, “Oh, I'll do it now, click. Might as well while I'm sitting here at 11:00 with nothing to do,” and you can answer it tomorrow. So there are all sorts of reasons that we can use as to why our business doesn't grow. But most times, the reason it's not growing, sometimes you get to sit back and look at what you are.

A lot of people judge what other people can pay based on their own financial situation. And that's very, very dangerous to do that. If you do that, you'll always be in the financial situation that you've always been in. 

It's not going to change unless you change your thinking. I've always been a big thinker. I've always thought that at some point in time, we can make it. We're going to find something. And I searched for ages and I might have said it on 177 that-

GEORGE: 117.

LINDSAY:  117, whatever it was, 117 folks, if you're listening, go to 117. You'll hear the first half of this. So if you get to the stage where you start to think that people are not going to come in your dojo, they're not going to come in your dojo. 

There's no way they're ever going to come into your dojo because that's your mindset. But if you have the mindset that you want to build a business, that you want to make your martial arts center profitable, it mightn't be that you want to do it full time. You might just want to be able to pay the rent on the building. 

You might just want to be able to have a few bucks at the end of the week to buy a car and a beer and go for a surf, whatever that may be.

You have to set the structure, you have to set the wheels in motion to actually get that to happen in the first place. And the only way that will happen is to get students. And the only way to get students is to get students. 

So if I was to say to you, George, I'll tell you what I'll do. Every student you've been through my door tomorrow for me, I'm going to give you three grand. How many students within the next week do you reckon that you'd be able to bring in for me? You'd just keep bringing them in every day. 

Because what would you do? You'd be walking down the mall saying, “Hey look, have you ever thought of doing karate?” You'd be standing outside of popular kids' places with brochures, handing them out to parents and talking to them, “Hey, have you ever thought of having your kids do karate?” 101 of sales. Get to the masses, get to start talking to the people. And that's what we do.

So if you want to get students, you'll get students. You'll work out a way to get students. And if you don't know how to get students, ask someone who's got students, how they got students. But I could tell you the key to that, if they've got a lot of students, do what they tell you. 

If they have five students, maybe consider their knowledge and the information not quite what you are looking for. If they've got 500 students, do exactly as they tell you to do. Because what will hold you back is your preconceived notions, your thoughts about what people want, or the way you should be doing it.

So all of these guys have, in the past, been in the same position that you are in right now. They've had their five students, their six students. We all had to start with no students. And we get devastated when students leave. 

I remember one point in time when 100% of my students left in one night. Both of them walked out. But you've just got to start somewhere. And the place to start is at the beginning. 

You just talk to people who are doing what you want to be able to do. And if worse comes to worst, pay someone to help you do it because there's always that option too. There are forward-thinking a couple of people out there that do this martial arts, marketing media stuff. That'll give you a bit of a hand. 

And maybe you need to get on to one of those guys who is pretty good at this and just do what they say. I want to be able to leave a legacy for my children. And we've spoken about that a couple of times and a few of the other guys that we regularly communicate with also have that same attitude that we want to leave legacies for our children. 

Some people want to have a business that they can sell at some point in time. I want to have a business that I can leave to my oldest son, my youngest son. He's not completely with it in life. He doesn't do karate. He's actually an accountant so he does okay.

But for the eldest one, I had to do something for him. He is a great manager and I am so fortunate and so lucky to have someone who's so forward-thinking.

Now he's 23 years old and he comes up with far better ideas than what I come up with. And that's because he is 23 years old. 

He knows what people of a younger era and a younger age are looking for. He knows what their interests are. I'm nearly 60 years old. I've lost a little contact with what 15, 16, and 17-year-olds like. Lachlan runs our junior leader program and our young instructor program. 

And to be honest, he is absolutely brilliant at it. He relates well to the young guys. He's a likable character. He's a lot of fun.

He creates a lot of jokes. Much to my dismay, I'm trying to get him to be more serious, but for some reason, it doesn't work. But he just controls our leadership group. People say, “Oh it's all right for you. You've got help.” 

Well, if you've got 15, 16, or even 14-year-olds in your class, you've got help. You've got that ability to take those young people and train them to be helpers, to be young leaders because that's what we all need. We all need more instructors. We all need people that are going to be able to fill in for us and be able to take over from us when we get to the stage where we don't want to do it anymore. 

And where's the best place to get those people? Inside your dojo. So if you've got those young 13, 14, 15-year-olds and you're not actually letting them help, you're losing a valuable resource. You're just letting that valuable resource go.

They're there for you to train. And we've got them in our dojo now. We have red coats who are our junior leaders. They come out on the floor, they start about 12-year-old and they come out and they start helping our more junior classes. 

It's simply correcting them, getting to show them how to kick properly or how to do a lower block correctly. It might just be simply turning the fist over to make sure that their punch is correct.

We have what we call our blue coats who are our junior instructors and they have a junior instructor across their back. Once they reach junior instructor level, they then have the ability to maybe get paid for what they do. We don't believe in asking these students to instruct classes and just swapping them for lessons generally because they feel they don't get anything out of it. 

Because it's generally the parent who pays for the lesson. So it's the parent that's not having to pay and the kid doesn't get anything. So we still make all our junior instructors pay for their lessons, but we pay the junior instructor for the work that they're doing. So they get paid.

It's their first job. They feel proud that they're now getting a job, that they're earning pocket money, but then their teaching picks up with assistance from us. But also then, their karate just starts to skyrocket because of the training that they're doing, because of that expectation that we're putting on them to teach correctly their karate improves so much. 

And then once they get to the point where they are a paid instructor, they then become instructors. And we've only been doing this probably about since we've come back from COVID. Oh, the Big C. Since we've been coming back from the Big C.

So it hasn't been very long, but we've managed to get a great stable of people from inside of our ranks. If you've got them there, use them and they love it. You ask a kid, “Can you come and help?” And you see their eyes light up, you see their smile beam from ear to ear. It's very special for them. Let them do it. 

Even if it's just starting. Say you got them in one of your classes, and let them take the warm-up for 10 minutes. The effect that has on that child is unbelievable. And yet your retention rate goes up with all those kids. 

None of those kids ever stop unless something goes wrong on the outside that they don't come any longer. But they generally come because they've got this commitment for helping. They've got this commitment to work and they feel great about it. So let them help.

And then the great thing is then the other kids see it. So everybody that comes through our door now that we look at them as a potential instructor. So we've also put that in our welcome brochure as well to say, “Hey look, one day your kids could be junior instructors here.” 

We could have a job for them whilst they're attending high school, whilst they're attending university, whatever it may be. There may be a job here for them part-time instead of the regular jobs that they consider McDonald's, or KFC because it's just amazing that people don't think this is an occupation. Why not? 

We actually pay better. Our junior instructors, even at 16 and 17, get 22 or 23 bucks an hour. That's well above the board. Why are we paying that? So we keep them, so they don't go and get more shifts down at McDonald's and don't come to train here any longer because McDonald's rings them up on Tuesday and Thursday nights and wants them to work for them. Sorry, I got a job. 

So for the same time, they're doing three hours here, they'd have to do six hours at McDonald's virtually, or five hours at McDonald's for the same money. So we're then speaking to them. If we're going to look at expanding our dojo base, we then have to look at who's going to take those over in the future. We need students that we've trained, that we've produced in our systems that know the way we work, and that understand us to take over those dojos at some point in time. 

They can only come from here. So we have to embed that seed into all of the kids' heads that one day, this could be you. One day you could be operating one of our dojos for us at the least you could be training on our floor and earning a bit of cash for it whilst you're seeking your lifetime goal of becoming a forensic scientist or whatever it is you want to do.

GEORGE:  Love that. You are very fortunate to have someone like Lachlan working for you. And I noticed this when we got together in Brisbane at the Partners Intensive. He was engaged in every topic, clicked on everything, especially on the marketing aspect, asked the right questions, was keen to learn, great son, and is a great role model for the younger kids. 

I actually think I will have him on the podcast and it'd be great to have his perspective just working in the business and getting that young person's insight and perspective of how it is working in the business, but also teaching the younger kids and getting them motivated and on the right path.

LINDSAY:  See, at 23, he's hugely responsible and he knows that this is his future. So he can go out there and spend five years at university and get a degree and then work for somebody in Melbourne or Sydney and shift away from home, and work the most ridiculous hours. 

At 55, be burnt out because you've just given your blood in your life to some company that doesn't appreciate you all that well. Or he can have his own business, or he can work in the family business of teaching martial arts, which is a great life, a great journey. You get to travel a lot, you get to meet absolutely brilliant people. And he understands that.

At 23 years old, he's got a very smart business head and he understands that. And he understands that because that's the thing that we've taught him all his life. I can remember we'd go overseas when he was young and he'd say, “Dad, can I get a T-shirt?” And at 8-year-old you'd say, “Here mate, you got 10 bucks. Here, go and get one.” But they're 20. Not my problem mate. And he'd always come back with a 10-buck T-shirt because he'd haggled with the store owner.

GEORGE:  That's great.

LINDSAY:  We've got to teach our kids those life skills, George. And you've got your daughter there. You've got to teach her those life skills. When you travel, when you go overseas, you've got to let her start doing some things. You've got to say, “Hey, look. Here, take this up to the counter and tell them that we're checking in.”

I really enjoy belonging to our martial arts group. I really do. And every single time I'm there, I've been a little bit quiet lately. I've had a few things going through my mind. I think about a lot of things when we're there and people say stuff and I go, “Oh, I think about that,” which is good to hear that I actually think about things that we talk about.

But I do steal lots of information and it's really quite good. And I love the guys. I just love getting together with people and we just have fun. Life should be more about having fun. Forget being too serious.

Life's full of serious people who all blow up and have heart attacks at 55, don't get like that. Martial arts is a fantastic journey. I don't know anything out there like it. I've searched the world for occupations and I've done 75 of them. 

And this is the one thing that people say, “Why did you quit that? I got bored with it. Why'd you quit that job? I got bored with it.” I've been into martial arts. This is coming up to nearly 40 years. 

You think if I was going to be bored with it, it would be by now, wouldn't you? It's not. It's not. It's because of the people. Everybody's great. There you go.

GEORGE:  Love it. Cool, Lindsay. Well, thanks so much for jumping on again. Great to see your journey just evolve and I'll see you on the next call. Any last words before we wrap up?

LINDSAY:  I'm going to use the Nike theme here, George. Hey, guys. Just do it.

GEORGE:  100%.

LINDSAY:  Yeah. All right. We'll see you again.

GEORGE:  Thanks, Lindsay. Speak soon.

LINDSAY:  Thanks, George. Appreciate it. Bye-bye.

GEORGE:  Thanks so much for tuning in. Did you enjoy the show? Did you get some value from it? If so, please, please do us a favor and share it with someone you care about. Share it with another martial arts school owner or an instructor friend that might benefit from this episode. And I'd love to hear from you. 

If you got some good value out of it and you just want to reach out, send me a message on Instagram. My handle is George Fourie, G-E-O-R-G-E, last name F-O-U-R-I-E. And just send me a message and I'd love to hear from you if you've got some value from this.

And last but not least, if you need some help growing your martial arts school, need help with attracting the right students, increasing your signups, or retain more members, then get in touch with us. 

Go to our website, and we've got a short little questionnaire that just asks a few questions about your business to give us an idea of what it is that you have got going on. And then typically from that, we jump on a quick 10 or 15-minute call just to work out if or how we can be of help, not a sales call.

It's really a fit and discovery call for us to get an idea if we can be of help, and that's that. We'd love to hear from you and I'll see you in the next episode. Cheers.


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138 – Building A Thriving Martial Arts Business For Generational Wealth

Michael Scott shares the 3 core areas he focuses on for a fulfilled life, and building a martial arts business that fuels generational wealth.


  • Are Google Ads getting better results than Facebook Ads?
  • Having an exit strategy when retiring from your martial arts business
  • Your martial arts business as a vehicle to build generational wealth
  • Having an accountability partner you can trust and who supports your goal
  • Why have membership contracts
  • And more

*Need help growing your martial arts school? Start Here.



GEORGE:  Hey, it's George Fourie. Welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast. Another great interview for you today. Michael Scott from CMA Campbelltown Martial Arts in New South Wales. 

So I've known Michael for a little while. We've been working together in our Partners Group. When you meet someone and they're not at the front of the conversation, but when they speak, you want to listen because it's always packed with wisdom. 

In fact, at the end of last year, we did something fun in our Partners Group and we gave out awards within the group, and Michael was named the Wisdom Whisperer, and just for that reason, sits back, observes the conversation, but when he speaks, it's packed with wisdom.

Now, Michael talks about the three areas that he focuses on in his life way beyond martial arts and actually how he has used his martial arts business as a vehicle to grow wealth and build generational wealth and talks about investment strategies and things that he does after that. So, you're going to love it. 

I loved doing this episode. Head over to You can download the transcript and all the resources. And please do me a favor, if you love this episode, share it with someone that you care about, a martial arts school owner or instructor. I'm sure they'll get a ton of value from this. 

All right, let's jump in. Michael Scott, welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast.

Michael Scott | martial arts business

MICHAEL:  Thanks, George, I'm not happy to be here, but I'm here.

GEORGE:  Hang on. I've got a guest on my podcast who's not happy to be here. Why is that?

MICHAEL:  Well, it's nothing to reflect on you, George, just I prefer to stay out of the limelight if I can. I like to sit in the background and gather all my information and make my decisions from there.

GEORGE:  Right. Perfect. And that is the entire reason that I've actually invited you to the show. So a bit of context and then we'll jump into things. So Michael, we've been working together for quite some time in our Partners Group, and in the last year we did something fun and we were giving out awards for just different aspects of value, which a lot of members in our community bring to the table. 

And for Michael Scott, we deemed Michael the Wisdom Whisperer and we thought the Wisdom Whisperer was appropriate for Michael, pretty quiet, sitting in the background, observing. But when he speaks, it's always of value, packed with wisdom of combination of the years in martial arts, building the business in the right way, investment portfolio, etc. 

I had to really twist the arm here to get Michael on, but I know it's going to be super valuable as it is when we spend time together each week. So thanks for making the exception, Michael.

MICHAEL:  You're welcome, George. It's funny, even though I say I don't like public speaking, I really don't like public speaking, but in my previous working life, I've completed Toastmasters speaking courses and all these other stuff to help you speak better in public. I still don't like to do it.

GEORGE:  Perfect. That's cool. So let's jump into some practicalities. I've got the first question I always like to ask. When it comes to marketing, and attracting new students, what's been your go-to strategy? Your strategy that's been most successful either recently or of all time?

MICHAEL:  Of all time, I would have to say referrals. I think referrals have always been a great way to gain new students from day one till now. That seems to be the best. If they're referrals, they're not a warm lead, they're a hot lead, They're ready to go. So for my money, as you've heard me say a million times, George, I'll pay $100 every day of the week to get a good referral, something that's of value.

Apart from that, having been in the game for a long time, I've seen the change in where our clients come from and it started off trading post ads to yellow pages ads to pink pages ads to local paper advertising, a little bit of radio advertising. And now we're down in the rabbit hole with Google and Facebook advertising. I did my stats the other day actually, and Google is bringing in more students than anyone else at this stage.

GEORGE:  Interesting.

MICHAEL:  We get more leads through Facebook, but we convert more through Google.

GEORGE:  I love that. It's very interesting how the dynamics have been shifting over the past couple of years. And if I had to add to that, I think when I started working with martial arts school owners, I was probably not even active on Facebook, but I learned direct response marketing through Google Ads and it was always the go-to place for me because I knew at that time it was the more complex machine to get going. 

But once you get it going, the maintenance is just a lot less because it's search-driven and not newsfeed driven. And the whole difference, for those of you that are listening that don't know, if you look at Google leads, you get the intent. 

People are more intent-based and so they're actually going physically to the search engine to search for something. Whereas Facebook, it's interruption-based, meaning you got to put things in front of the newsfeed for them to snap them out of their trance of looking at cats or procrastinating or doing whatever they're doing with a good irresistible offer for them to actually respond to.

And there's definitely pros and cons to both. There's definitely pros and cons to how they can work together. But the interesting dynamic for me is how it shifted from Google being always the player and then Facebook came in and Facebook is just the go-to lead source and it still is for a lot of people. But the mature system is Google with the mature ad platform.

And I know a lot of people are getting a lot of issues with Facebook and just pages being restricted or things being flagged because the AI isn't as dialed in where Google has really mastered this over time. And we seem to see the shift as people don't pay as much attention to Facebook and social platforms and how Google is becoming again this powerhouse. So it's interesting. 

So you did the stats in a comparison of actually who are members and who are not members?

MICHAEL:  Always. Yeah. Each month I go through and I look at where all our leads come from. So my CRM spits out a report of where all the leads have come from and then I just refine that report and I just click on a button and say, “Okay, now I want to know what leads turned into active students and just goes bang.”

GEORGE:  Nice.

MICHAEL:  So it makes life very easy for me in that respect. And the other area I guess, which I didn't mention, is the website leads, which is something we’re just starting to see a return. So as you know, you helped us tweak our website a little bit. 

We've just done a completely new website, so that's starting to gain momentum now as well. So I'll be interested to see where that goes as far as our leads and conversions over the next 12 months. Because we were one of the first martial arts, I guess, to have a website when websites first became a thing in Australia. 

But we didn't really do much with it. We just went to someone who created a little website for us and we just plotted along until now. And it's only now we decided, okay, well we've played with Google, we've played with Facebook, we've played with everything else, let's play with the website leads and see where that goes. 

So yeah, with your input, we've done a few tweaks to it and they've completed those tweaks for us. So I'm looking forward to the next 12 months.

GEORGE:  Love it. So take us back, because I mentioned that you've been in the industry for quite a while. Just give us a bit of an overview, your background, your story, how you got into martial arts and how everything's evolved to now.

Michael Scott | Martial Arts Business

MICHAEL:  I guess going right back, I started in boxing when I was 10 years old. That was mainly driven through my father who was ex-military. So he taught me the basic skills in boxing. And then I went to PCYC like everybody else did back then and just boxed regularly there. 

I did that all through school till I was about 18 I think it was. And I got bored with it, to be honest. I was looking for something else. And at that stage, Bruce Lee, all that sort of stuff was out. I always had an interest in martial arts movies, whatever was around. 

I go back to the early days of phantom agents and stuff like that, which was on Saturday morning. You may not even remember them, little phantom ninja guys, who jumped up and down in trees and spat little stars at people.

GEORGE:  Right. Yeah, I do actually.

MICHAEL:  But yeah, that's probably my first inkling into martial arts. Even when I turned about 18, I'd left school, started working, and had money on my own. A mate of mine rang me up and said, “I found this thing to do.” I said, “What do you mean you found this thing to do?” 

He said, “I found a martial art for us to do.” I said, “What's it called?” He said, “It's Hapkido, Hapkido, or something.” So what do you mean by Hapkido?” He said, “I don't know, that's what it's called.” And he said, “I'll read a bit about it.” 

And it just said, “I can't remember the spiel, but it's basically learned jumping, flying, spinning kicks, bone-crunching techniques.” And I said, “Oh, that sounds like us.”

So I went in, looked at the school, and set a day where I always watch two lessons. Joined in the third lesson and I've been doing it ever since. And then in the night, that was early, that would've been early '80s, I started doing that and still doing that to this day. 

And then in the early-mid, about '96, I got introduced to John Will with a seminar he was doing in Sydney with John Will, Jean Jacques Machado, and Richard Norton. And that was my first foray into what's now known as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. 

And I started training from then I just… After the seminar, I said to John, “So this stuff is cool.” I said, “Where I learned it .” He said, “From me.” I said, “Where do you buy?” He said, “Geelong.” I said, “How long does it take to get from Geelong to Campbelltown? 

I didn't know. I had no idea where Geelong was back then.” He said, “I'm in Melbourne.” I said, “Well that's a bit hard.” He said, “I'll come and see you.”

So that's where the relationship started. In the early days he came up and saw us four times a year. So I got access to him four times a year as well as he did whatever other Sydney seminars he did, I went along and did those as well. And I've been with John ever since, still plugging away BJJ as well. 

And I like anything in martial arts, any weapon, any style. If I can learn something, I'll learn it. I don't have any preconceived ideas of one style or one person's better than the other. 

And then I started, I think it was about '92. I left my instructor just not really left him. I left the organization because they were all teaching in small scout halls and school halls and that type of thing. And we'd already moved to a full-time premise. Well, it wasn't really, well it was a part-time to full-time venue.

So there's certain things we wanted to do. We wanted to do our own marketing, we wanted to do our own T-shirts and cups and we were just all excited about putting everything out there. 

And back then they had a little committee that he had to go through and I just said, “Well, this is a waste of time.” He said, “You guys are operating with 20 students. I've already got 90 students in three months.” So, I said, “I'm heading out if you're going to try to restrict me there, I'm going to do my own thing.”

So, I walked out, did my own thing, and that was '92, that's where it all started. I had a partner back then, Steve, you might know Steve Perceval, he was a partner with me, but he only stayed a partner for about 12 months. 

And then he went off and did his own thing. And then I moved to… It's '93, let's see, about '94, I moved to the premise I'm in now. And in 2000 I bought it. They wouldn't let me buy it until 2000.

So I bought it just prior to the GFC and that's how I got into it. I'd been working in marketing and I'd owned different businesses previously. And my company where I'd worked a long time for got taken over by someone else. 

They said my job was no longer a position there. So, I went and I looked for other positions and I thought, well, the position I had was just near home. I did a lot of travel, international, national, but the office itself was five minutes from home.

So when I started applying for other positions, they were all inner city and North Sydney and they're a nightmare to get to. So, I just said to my wife, “I don't want to work anymore.” So, she said, “What do you want to do instead?” I said, “I'm not sure. I think I want to run the gym full time.” 

She said, “What do you mean do it full-time?” I said, “Oh, I'm going to go sit with the accountant. I went and sat with my accountant, went through all the numbers.” She said, Look, you've turned other small companies into million-dollar companies for other people. Do it for yourself.”

So I left and I started doing the gym in '90, whatever it was '92, I started the gym. So I was probably about 12 years later, I went full time and haven't looked back since. That's pretty much how I got into it.

GEORGE:  Love that Michael. So I want to, something you touched on that you did quite early is you bought your premises. So you mentioned, so it was five years, right? Is that about a five-year window, a six-year window, and then you bought it?

MICHAEL:  We moved into the building and I leased it from '93 I think it was, or '94 we moved in, on a lease, but I wanted to buy. I offered the owners straight away, I said, “I want to buy, I want to buy, I want to buy.” And they kept saying, “No, no, no, no, no.” 

Until 2000, just prior, must have been February, 2000 because I think GFC came in July, 2000. So about February, 2000, they finally said, “Yes, we'll sell it to you.” And I said, “Great, I'll buy it.” 

I didn't know how I was going to buy it because my wife was eight and a half months pregnant with our first child, just about to give up work going back to a single income. But we did, we just bit the bullet and said, “Yep, let's do it.” And haven't looked back since.

GEORGE:  I know you're a big property guy and numbers guy. What was your thinking at that time? Was the numbers and the property, was that always a thing that started early or how did you evolve to putting all the emphasis and focus on buying the property and then we'll talk about what followed from there?

Martial arts business wealth

MICHAEL:  As soon as I moved out of home, I never rented. I bought my property straight away. So, I never believed in paying dead money. I just called it dead money. Rent to me was dead money paying someone else's mortgage for them.

So it used to burn me every time. I had to pay for the gym rent every month. So, it was always my goal to buy it. That was from day one. Having an interest in property from an early age, I knew that at least in the Sydney market, the property doubled every 10 years.

Property values double on average, some a little bit earlier, some a little bit later, some a little bit more, and some a little bit less. So, I knew if I didn't buy it, if I let it go for another five years, 10 years, it could be out of my reach at that point in time. So that's why I really wanted to buy it and I knew it'd just keep going up in value anyway. 

And my wife and I, because she was going off on maternity leave, we knew we'd be on a fixed income for quite a while. We just took out a fixed-interest loan. So, it was high, but we knew we could cover that cost and we knew that cost wasn't going to go up, so that's what we did.

GEORGE:  Walk me through your thinking a little because if I look at a lot of school owners today, the goal is growth. We're going to open this school and we're going to open the next school and the next school and expand the organization. How long have you been in the business?

MICHAEL:  30 years.

GEORGE:  30 years? Right. In 30 years, and you've gone the other direction. You've kept one location, you've built it highly profitable, but then you've taken the profits and you've built up this property portfolio and investment portfolio on the back end of your marginalized business. 

Was the motivation ever to expand the one martial arts school and go in that direction or where do you feel you sit on that spectrum?

MICHAEL:  I'd still like to have a second location, third location, and fourth location. But finding the right people to do it is very, very difficult. And a good friend of mine, an associate of yours, Fari Salievski, he's got quite a successful martial arts school. 

I consider him one of my mentors from early on in the business side of martial arts and he has multiple schools, but he doesn't own any of them. He just owns the one he's in. And I asked him the question many, many years ago, I said, “Why haven't you got yourself a second or third location? You can afford it.” 

And he said, “You just triple your headaches and you don't triple your profit.” So all his schools, all the individual schools are owned by the people who run them. I've been waiting for one black belt to come to me and say, “Hey, I'm moving out of the area. I want to open a school.” But it hasn't happened yet, still waiting for it.

GEORGE:  Got it. Now in the reverse of that, you've got your son, Ethan, who is a big part of your business, right? Stepping up to basically run the school.

MICHAEL:  Yeah, I guess in any business you need an exit strategy. So my goal was always to combine my business as both an exit strategy for me and a generational vehicle of wealth for future generations of my kids. And I just hope to God that one of them was interested in it. 

Martial arts business wealth | Martial Arts Super Show

Luckily, they're both interested in it. Ethan works full-time in it as of now, funny enough though, I asked him if he wanted to open a second school and he said no. Now whether that comes from my input on it, I'm not sure. I'd be interested to see what he does down the track.

But I guess he can just see that the work that goes into running one business, whether you want to branch out to two, I know a lot of people do it successfully. But yeah, just for me it's just something that's never really grabbed me to own another and run a second one as my own. 

But to have an instructor who had an interest in it, I'd be happy to own the building. They can pay rent, do all that, I'll put the systems in there. But everything else, the day-to-day running would be up to them.

GEORGE:  Got it. So, do you mind walking us through your investment strategy? I know you've got a bunch of properties and you mentioned now as well you'd be happy to buy the building of a school and have somebody in there as well. 

So, again, thinking on the property route, walk us through your investment portfolio and how you go about generational wealth and how you are working towards that?

MICHAEL:  Okay. I think I've spoken to you before, but probably not in this environment. I have three areas that I look at. So one is my current self, which means where I am currently in life with my family, my boys, and everything else, which means I need income to pay for current things like day-to-day living, mortgages, school fees, holidays, cars, and all that sort of stuff. 

Then your future self. So, my future self is something I work on for when I'm no longer… Not that I won't ever stop working, but I'm no longer reliant on the income from the business.

So I need to create a way that I have an income that the business doesn't have to cover me and then I need generational wealth, which is a way to create wealth for future generations. So in my retirement, when I slow down, when my wife and I slow down, we're not going to eat into or affect that generational wealth that will just stay there and that'll be the boys' problem to figure out once we're gone.

GEORGE:  Got it. So do you mind leaning in a level deeper on how you approach those three things?

MICHAEL:  Yeah, so they're the sort of three, I guess three stages of life that we all go through. So I guess I've broken it up into three stages of life and I'm probably not the first one to do it and I've probably gained this, gleaned this from someone speaking seminar or something I've heard, but it made sense to me. 

So they're the three stages of life and then I have three areas to work with. My first area is my business. So my business looks at my current stage of life, my future life, and my generational wealth. So it can sink into all three areas. And then I have my self-managed super fund, which is a whole subject on its own and it looks after future self and generational wealth. 

And then I have my private investments and they can look after all three areas as well so they can look after my current self, future self, and generational wealth. So that's how I structured my financial position if that makes sense.

GEORGE:  Yeah, perfect. So what investments do you prefer? Let's start there and then we'll go from there.

MICHAEL:  I like property. I like tangible things. I was caught up in the global financial crisis. So my wife and I had… We lost 50% of our super overnight in one fell swoop. It was just gone. 

And I know within five to seven years it recouped itself as a whole. But that scared me because I thought well they're just taken from me. If I wanted to retire on that day or do something on that day, half my assets just went out the window. So that was 2007, 2008 I think somewhere around there.

So at that point in time, my wife and I went and started our own self-managed super fund because I said well, no one's going to control my super except for me so that was the start of the self-managed super fund. And then the first thing I did was I transferred my building into it.

GEORGE:  I'd love to know more on that but just for our American listeners, that'll be equivalent. Super would be equivalent to a 401(k) if I've got that right?

MICHAEL:  A 401(k). Yeah. But I don't know whether they have the access, I don't know whether it's Americans who can manage their own 401(k) or whether it's just whatever the employer does with their super fund, that I'm not sure of.

GEORGE:  So, walk us through that process if you don't mind. And I know I'm asking the investment style questions, if there's anything you feel is not good to share, I mean you're more than welcome to retract of course. But if you go about, walk us through that process of you mentioned your property into the super fund, how does that work?

Martial arts business wealth

MICHAEL:  As I said, we took out a fixed-interest rate loan to buy the building and I think it was on a five-year fixed-interest loan. So we just said, “Yeah, okay, we're going to survive five years paying a high-interest rate.” But we didn't. We refinanced and paid it out within three years. 

So we owned the building within three or four years. So once we owned the building, we had some decisions to make. I mean it is paying rent to us which goes on top of your income, which you pay tax on, etc.

And I thought well we got a self-managed super fund with shares and sitting in there, which we can't do anything with. So I thought let's have some… I did some research on it obviously, looking to speak to a few people.

And I said, “I'm going to put the building in there then it's safe.” No one can touch it. It's in there forever and a day. The downside of putting it into a super fund is that you can't use the equity in it, that's just locked away in your fund.

So it has drawbacks but then it has advantages as well. That was the first stage. And I guess long term, if you're talking long term but self-managed super funds, once you hit 65, everything you draw out of it, it's tax-free. So again for me, I was looking at my future self and generational self, I guess.

GEORGE:  Right. Your property is in the super fund. So how did you then restart the investment cycle into different properties from that point?

MICHAEL:  So I have properties in and out of super. So I always look at both areas. Obviously, properties you're putting to super are pretty much there for life, properties you have outside of super, you can play with them, you can use the equity in them to get more, you can sell them, you can do what you like with them. So that's why I look at both areas.

GEORGE:  All right. So you've got a lot of experience in doing investments and working with property. What advice would you have for a school owner that's starting out, starting to see success with this school, and now they're looking at, right, well what's the next step for me? How am I going to start investing? Where would you start?

martial arts business

MICHAEL:  I guess it's hard because you don't know anyone's personal situation. And I guess the biggest thing too, which I didn't mention, which I should always mention is that everything I do is gold stamped by my wife. And you've got to have such a good partner because they've got to be 100% on board with what you're doing. And if you haven't got that it makes it very, very difficult.

So my wife's very good. I mean we've just finished doing taxes for the business and for personal and for self-money. I just hand piles of paper to sign as she just signs it all just because we have that I guess undivided trust between each other. 

But yeah, I know a lot of couples where one partner wants to invest, they're keen, but the wife's very reserved in investment strategies and unless you're both on the same page it just will not work.

So that's my first thing. If you're going to look at any investment, talk to your partner, sit down with them, go through it all, make sure they understand it. They might not want to be involved in it but as long as they understand it and they support you, I think that's a good starting point. 

And if they're looking at property, I have a guy who does all my property for me. I've recommended so many people to him that they now have properties with him as well. But I only recommend people to him that I know are the right people for him.

GEORGE:  Is that based on the type of property that he does or the more towards the type of person that you send to him within their caliber to make the investments required?

MICHAEL:  Definitely the type of person, the type of property he will match to them. I just make sure I send him the right type of person. Because he's a businessman, I don't want to waste his time with people who just want to go in and tick the tires and get some information and go somewhere else and get some information. 

Although before, as I like to sit in the background, one of my students invested with this gentleman first and he accumulated four properties with him. And I watched these four. I watched him grow from one property to four over a period of two or three years. 

I didn't invest with him or didn't talk to him until then. And being a student, a long-time student, he gave me all the data, he just gave me all his financials and said, “Here's all the financials, my own personal, my wife's financials,” everything with the properties involved in it. He said, “Go through it, have a look at it. If you're comfortable with it, I'll make an introduction for you.”

So that's pretty rare for someone to give you all that information anyway. Most people aren't too happy to share any financial data. But they gave me everything. I can tell you what his wife earned, what he earned, like everything. Because he was so confident in what he was doing that he wanted to show me how confident he was.

GEORGE:  It's why referrals are a good strategy.

MICHAEL:  100%.

GEORGE:  Having that level of trust from someone, I think it's just unbeatable on all levels.

MICHAEL:  Yeah. You can't go past it.

GEORGE:  Where to next with all this, you've got the business, and you've got the property portfolios building, where do you feel your business is headed in the next couple of years? On all spectrums, on just business growth, and on the investment side?

MICHAEL:  Like a lot of businesses, especially martial arts, I feel COVID really hit us hard. We've come out of it doing much better than a lot. But conservatively, I think it cost us 100 students and it probably cost us some growth that we're starting to since it all crashed. 

So it's reopening a new business. We've just been going for 12 months now. Although, we did have a database, a good database to start off with, which is better than a lot of people had. But I do feel it cost us 100 students and I think we'll start to recoup those over the next 12 months. 

So really I just want to get the business back into a good position. So for me, sitting around the 450, I always wanted to get the 500. I never made it to 500 students. So getting to the 400, 450 students is a really good solid base to do what I want to do.

We want to do some renovations, we want to redo our bathrooms, we're putting it, and we want to extend our mezzanine upstairs. We've got all that to do but have been a bit reluctant to do it just at the moment. I just want to give the next 12 months and just see what's happening.

Yeah, I think that's probably where we just really want to see the business. I mean it's just the numbers game with the business, our retention is really good. We do have pretty good retention but obviously, you still need the numbers coming in and anything the bigger you get, the more the numbers seem to leak at the bottom of it, seem a little bit bigger each time. We have to make sure we keep recouping those.

GEORGE:  What do you lean towards your retention and why is it so good?

MICHAEL:  I think it's 30 years in the business. We've refined a lot of systems. We're very systemized. Students know exactly what they're getting. There are no gray areas for them. We have a high standard across the board. 

Everybody knows that if you can't do what you need to do, you don't progress to the next belt level. There are no buts or maybes, our black belt gradings are renowned for being tough and anyone who gets through it deserves it.

And just keeping that high standard I think and a good culture, we have a really good family culture. Everybody knows that you can bring your 3-year-old to train, your 10-year-old, your 15-year-old, or you can train yourself as a parent.

And I guess being in business so long, we've got a lot of second-generation students there. I taught their moms and dads and now the kids are training.

GEORGE:  From speaking with you Michael, I know that you're very straight down the line in your systems and there are no gray areas. What is your stance on a few of those things? Let's say things that come up with students, there are excuses, or people don't want to commit. 

I think we've spoken about this within the contexts as well, how you go about that. Do you mind sharing a bit about that? Just your stance on where this comes from. There's no gray area and not tolerating excuses and everything else.

MICHAEL:  Oh I think it just comes from growing up, you know my boxing background. There were no gray areas, you just did what you were told, there's no about what, about these, about what? There's none of that. 

And then martial arts, my instructor was really tough. He was tough. What he did to us, he couldn't do now, he just couldn't do it. You just wouldn't be allowed. It wasn't anything bad, it's just a different era. 

Everyone training on the floor was 18 to 25 with this, the odd female and the odd younger kid that was it. It was a tough environment and you knew what you had to do to get to your next belt level and there were no shortcuts.

You knew if you messed up in your grading in certain areas you weren't getting your belt. We've put systems into place so the students can't mess up on their grading because there are tips involved and it's nice to go home to parents and go home to teachers. 

So we take away all the problems that could face us integrating before the grading happens. So anyone who's not going to get through the grading doesn't step up in front of us.

GEORGE:  Got it. And your stance on contracts throughout the business, how does this combine with this?

MICHAEL:  I'll go through that in a sec. Yeah, I think it's along the same lines, George. I think if you're going to be serious about anything, you need to commit to it. So, if you're not prepared to commit, I mean we do a minimum contract of 6 months. 

If you're not prepared to commit to something for 6 months, you're really not going to give it a good go. And even six months, the way I talk to parents and people about it, on average, you need to repeat a routine about 21 times to make it a habit.

So if you're doing a 6-month contract, you're training twice a week, you're doing about 26 lessons, 46 lessons, whatever it works out to be, you're maybe getting to the habit, and that's the problem if you're just doing short-term contracts or not contracts at all, it's very hard to get into the habit or even create a routine.

So we've been pretty strong on that stance. We still are. We've just introduced the month-to-month price, but we bumped it right up and it's really for the people who… It's not advertised, it's just for those people who we just know aren't going to get across the line on any contract they have contract phobia, whatever the case may be.

We had one the other day as grandparents, they are paying for their grandchild. Mom and Dad wouldn't pay for it. They just didn't want to commit to a contract. So it'll be right, they cost an extra 20 bucks a week and you can do it month-to-month as you get better. 

So we get an extra $20 a week and my guess is you'll probably be around in six months or 12 months anyway paying a higher price.

GEORGE:  As long as they're not in the contract, they're happy.

MICHAEL:  They're happy. Yeah.

GEORGE:  …To pay the extra two bucks for it.

MICHAEL:  We'll be the exception, not the rule for us. I still like the contracts, I like the commitment we have, black belts have been with us for 20 years. We still do their contract every year.

GEORGE:  Yeah, a hundred percent. I think sometimes there are people that downplay a contract. I see some gyms do this. But then again, all the love to the gym industry. They abuse the contracts that they have to say no contracts. 

And I see sometimes in their sales, in their marketing material, they advertise no contracts as a selling point. But then really, I mean if you can't commit for a short amount of time, is it really going to be beneficial? So, I think it's the value that you place in the contract.

Some people have been, it's a trigger word, something went wrong in a contract and they carry that weight for them through life. But I think it's really good to look at it in the positive sense of what is it that you… Does it tie in with your values of what you stand for? 

And I think that's something that you've communicated with us in the past. It's not the culture that you want to build of people that are going to try and quit. And so it does reinforce a commitment to doing the thing that you said you want to do. 

And I think it's something that is lacking in society just in general, people are very easy to go back on their word of committing to something but then just not sticking through with it. And I think it's good in a sense to remind people of the commitment they had to themselves because they're doing it for themselves and the contract could just be the thing that keeps them re-valuing their decisions.

MICHAEL:  Yeah, 100%, George. I think that society is very dangerous. It's like a transient society now and everything they do, they're just in and out, in and out. If something doesn't work, they just go to the next thing. And that scares me a lot. 

There's no resilience. That's the one thing that most kids and people who start with this, they just lack resilience in all areas of their life. And I think that's the one thing martial arts can really reinforce is resilience.

GEORGE:  Yeah. I had this reflection earlier and I think I mentioned it just talking about maybe it wasn't a parenting situation, but when we grew up we never had a choice. Your choice was limited, you had to do something or not.

In our case, growing up in South Africa, it's like you got rugby and cricket and emphasis on rugby and nothing else. And stepping into this new age and how kids grow up information is just, there's no shortage. How do you filter out the information?

So there's just too much choice. And I think the danger that social media and things like YouTube have expressed upon young kids is they see the result and not the journey. And so it's really easy to just see someone doing something at such an elite level on camera and you see it everywhere and you just… It's really easy to assume that I could just do that and it's really simple.

But then the resilience to actually get there is missing. The journey is missing when people see the results and not the journey and they try and apply and get the same result and they don't get it, disappointment kicks in, and okay, “Well, I'll just try XYZ.” 

I feel martial arts does help with that. You mentioned this is a concern for you. What have you seen that's a real difference in the way that when you started 30 years ago?

And there was this resilience, there was this more hardcore training and now you can't adapt those old strategies for the younger generation and obviously for some obvious reasons and things like that. But where do you feel things could adapt so that you can get the same results and that same resilience out of the younger generation?

MICHAEL:  I think we can get the same results. I think it just takes longer. I guess what I would say is, say one of my red belts nowadays would've been one of my green belts 20 years ago. The skill level would've been roughly the same. But we've had to mold our syllabus to suit the times. 

I guess when I first started training, we'd do walking, standing up a block, lower block and we did it up and down the gym for half an hour and we just do it because that's what we were told to do. But you couldn't do that now. 

You'd have half your student base walk out within a month. So you continually need to be creating something to keep them engaged. I think it's the great thing about martial arts, it has the ability to do that because you can do the same thing 10 different ways and the student thinks they're doing something different. 

So disguise repetition, but it takes work and it takes skill. And I think the other thing that we've noticed with the kids, which is sad to see, is that a lot of the basic skills that kids used to have are gone now. We have kids who come in who don't know how to jump, don't know how to climb. Even running, that is an effort for them.

And these kids aren't overweight or anything like that. They just haven't got the skills. When we were young, we were climbing fences, climbing trees, and we had monkey bars in our schoolyard. We climbed up and fell often. 

None of that exists anymore unless you're a parent who takes your kids outside to do something like that, the kids don't get exposed to it. It's all too dangerous at school now. So yeah, we teach kids how to climb up onto blocks and pads, and then how to jump off them and then bend their knees so they don't land on straight legs.

So a lot of the basic fundamental skills that are gone, you have to reteach the kids before you even start teaching them how to kick and punch. You need to teach them how to really walk and talk again. With respect to BJJ, the first thing that a new student wants to do with BJJ is to get it on the internet. 

And that's the first thing I tell him not to do. So stay off online until you get at least six months under your belt and then just dip your toe in the water.

Because as you said earlier, they're seeing the end result of maybe 10 years of experience doing a technique and they think, “Oh that looks easy. I'll go and do that. And then they come into the gym, they try it on someone and they just don't work and they don't understand why it doesn't work?” Because it works on the video. 

And the analogy I always give them is I say, “Look, if I stood you in front of the mirror and I taught you how to do a jab, I'm pretty sure in an hour I could teach you how to do a reasonable jab. And in an hour, how many jabs could you do in an hour, let's say 500, it would be pretty easy.”

So now let's go to the BJJ mats, I'm going to teach you how to do an armbar. How long does it take to do 500 armbars? They can't calculate it. And that's the big difference between the standup and the ground. 

Out of the ground, you can teach repetitions pretty quickly. On the ground, you cannot. And the BJJ has got more videos out there than anything else.

GEORGE:  It's definitely great to have an abundance of information. But it's also dangerous in the sense of… And we find that in a coaching aspect that, and we do that in our Partners membership where we have a thing called the on-ramp, which blocks out the 130 other courses in the program that you just stay on the track that because you learn one step at a time, the right things in the right sequence.

I think it's super important and it's easy to, yeah, it's so easy to get distracted and see the cool thing and you think, I just want to do the cool thing. But the cool thing is I just need to learn the fundamentals before the cool thing.

MICHAEL:  Yeah, 100%. I see that as a big obstacle in martial arts today in all areas is the online presence of access to something so easy without doing all the fundamentals it takes to get to that point. 

If ever I'm watching a video on martial arts, I turn the sound off, I don't listen to them at all. I just look at their footwork, their hands, their hip movement, and that'll tell me all I need to know.

GEORGE:  Why do you prefer to keep the sound off?

MICHAEL:  They're great technicians, but they may not be great at teaching, especially when it… I mean, teaching on video is a whole other level than teaching in front of the class. And even a lot of the great instructors, I watch their tutorials and they're doing all the right things, but they're not saying it. So it's very hard.

You've probably heard of the terms invisible Jiu-Jitsu or Royal Jiu-Jitsu, it's all the things that a person does automatically without realizing they're doing it. Well, they know they're doing it, but they just do it automatically. It's built into their DNA now.

And to do a single move, they might be doing 20 different things they're not talking about, but unless you do those 20 different things, you're not going to get their result.

GEORGE:  Unconscious competence. Yeah.

MICHAEL: Yeah, 100%. I'm a visual learner anyway.

GEORGE:  Hey, love it. Michael, it's been great chatting to you. We've gone through a roundabout different aspects and I really wanted to connect with you because I know you've got a million things that you can share and I just wanted to really extract a few gold things. 

But any last words, anything to add before we wrap things up? If you are open to people reaching out to you, you're more than welcome to share details of how, if you prefer not, please don't because people might reach out to you. Any last words?

MICHAEL:  Look, I think for any martial arts school owner, obviously your school is very important. But also look at, I'm a big believer in what I just said. Look at the three areas of your life, where you are currently, where you want to be when you retire, and what you want to leave behind. And I think if you focus on those three areas, everything else will sort of make sense to you.

GEORGE:  100%. Awesome. Michael, thanks so much for doing this. Thanks for being on. I'll see you on the call during the week.

MICHAEL:  Thanks, George. Because it was not a pleasure, but it was fun.

GEORGE:  Awesome. It was great. Thanks.

MICHAEL:  All right, George. Take care.

GEORGE:  Thanks so much for tuning in. Did you enjoy the show? Did you get some value from it? If so, please, please do us a favor and share it with someone you care about. Share it with another martial arts school owner or an instructor friend that might benefit from this episode. 

And I'd love to hear from you if you got some good value out of it and you just want to reach out, send me a message on Instagram. My handle is George Fourie, G-E-O-R-G-E, last name F-O-U-R-I-E.

And just send me a message and I'd love to hear from you if you've got some value from this. And last but not least, if you need some help growing your martial arts school, need help with attracting the right students or increasing your signups or retaining more members, then get in touch with us.

Go to our website, and we've got a short little questionnaire that asks a few questions about your business to give us an idea of what it is that you have going on. And then typically from that we jump on a quick 10, 15 minute call just to work out if or how we can be of help, not a sales call. 

It's really a fit and discovery call for us to get an idea if we can be of help. And that's that, we'd love to hear from you and I'll see you in the next episode. Cheers.


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137 – [Martial Arts Business Case Study] How Amanda & Wayne Increased Their Revenue By $200K In 12 Months

Amanda Saliba and Wayne Ardley share how they increased their revenue for the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Krav Maga gym by $200,000 in just 12 months.


  • A martial arts hobby turned into a successful martial arts business
  • When to get help from a marketing expert?
  • How the ‘Partners OnRamp’ helps boost martial arts schools 
  • Quitting your day job to become a full-time martial arts instructor
  • Tapping into a pool of knowledge through Martial Arts Media™ Partners
  • And more

*Need help growing your martial arts school? Start Here.



GEORGE:  Hey, it's George Fourie. Welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast. Today, I'm doing one of my favorite episodes to create, which is a case study. A case study documenting a client's journey from when they started working with us to where they are now. 

Today, I'm speaking to Amanda Saliba and Wayne Ardley all the way from Melbourne. And I love this episode simply because Amanda is so committed to achieving big goals, and same as Wayne, still in the workforce, positioning out of that going full time into the business. And in the time that we've spent working together, they've increased their income with an additional $200,000 over the last 12 months.

What I love about this is that we zoomed out with this journey. You know, we love to talk about marketing on the show, attracting the right students, increasing sign ups and retaining more members. And sometimes the emphasis is on getting more students, but we all know there's more to that, right? 

There's the retaining, keeping the students, which is the biggest part, really. And well, you can't have one without the other. So this case study really documents the journey of staying with the course, you know, not looking for the quick fix, doing the work.

You know, we are on coaching calls every week. Amanda's always on the coaching calls. There's lots available, Amanda's always on all of them, and does the work, implements, makes the refinements, and really commits to the journey. And that's really what it takes.

So I love doing this interview. You are definitely going to get a lot of value from this so head over to if you'd like to download the podcast transcript and the resources mentioned in this episode. And that's it. Let's jump in. Amanda and Wayne, welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast.

WAYNE:  Hello.

AMANDA:  Thanks for having us, George.

GEORGE:  Cool. So I wanted to bring you guys on the show, and this is one of my favorite interviews to do because we get to talk a bit about a customer journey working together and the awesome results that you guys have managed to do over the last 12 months, which is really exciting and I look forward to diving a bit more into the details on that. But just before we kick things off, if you don't mind sharing just a bit of an intro, who is Amanda? Who is Wayne and what do you do in the martial arts space?

WAYNE:  What do we do? We run a club or gym, depending on what terminology you want to use in Bacchus Marsh in Victoria. We primarily focus on Brazilian  Jiu-Jitsu, Krav Maga. We also run a little side program called KravFit, which is just more of a high-intensity sort of workout. 

So it gets a little bit away from the martial arts space, but into the fitness space. But using martial arts techniques and things to just give that quick 30-minute high-intensity program.

AMANDA:  And we do that for adults and for children as well. From the age of 3, we have a little ninja program for 3 to 5 year olds, and then we go all the way through to adults.

GEORGE:  Love it. So what got you into what you do into the martial arts space and the different styles?

Amanda Saliba Wayne Ardley Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Business Case Study

WAYNE:  Well, that's a long question. I don't know, have we got enough time for that one? Well, both of us are long-term martial artists, I suppose you could say. I certainly started when I was probably around 14 in Taekwondo, moved to karate, and moved to Thai kickboxing, boxing, through a number of different programs. 

About 20 plus years ago, I started Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I've been doing that one ever since. That's sort of my real passion. I also studied and trained, got instructor publications in a number of other styles, including Ray Flos, Night Fighting System as an example. 

Kali, Filipino Martial Arts, trained as an instructor many, many years back for over half a decade with one of your compatriots from South Africa, Rodney King and the Crazy Monkey Defense Program. There's probably a long list, but the primary things for like 20 plus years, probably the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and basic striking, whether it be Krav Maga or boxing Kickboxing for myself.

AMANDA: For me, I started when I was 17, and I did Muay Thai for over a decade, competed in that, then moved into Crazy Monkey with Wayne. And then when I was 34, I started going into Jiu-Jitsu. And three years ago, I took up Krav Maga as well. So I've been doing this for a couple of decades now.

WAYNE:  She's won, I don't know how many Australian titles in Jiu-Jitsu now. So she's doing really well.

AMANDA:  And that too.

GEORGE:  I've seen those awards coming up.

WAYNE:  So no, we're just really both, I suppose, really passionate about martial arts. And obviously, our main thing is how we use it as a vehicle. It's not about training champions, although we do have a number of people who compete and compete quite well at a high level. 

It is about how we make people's lives better through martial arts. And I think that's pretty much what we're both mostly passionate about. How can we change and help people?

GEORGE:  Love that. All right, so we've been working together for I think just over 12 months, right?

AMANDA:  Yes. September 2021.

GEORGE:  There we go. So, just over 12 months, and you got some great results, but I just want to break down, just to process what got us to that and we'll speak a bit more about the journey of how we've gotten to when we had that first conversation. What did you want to achieve and, and what problems were you facing in the business at the time?

AMANDA:  So we met you through our ClubWorx seminar, so through our CRM. And you did a seminar there, and I was really interested to hear about marketing just because I knew that I wasn't doing it very well, and I needed some help in that area. So at that time, I was still working two jobs, and this was something that I thought if I wanted to be able to do this full-time, that we needed more members and that we needed to attract more people into the business.

So once we got people to the business, it seemed okay, once they were at Phoenix, but prior to that, just getting them there. So community awareness and then when you popped up, I was very interested immediately and I was thinking, we have to log onto this, and you shared some fantastic information on that seminar or podcast, whatever, however you want to explain it, which led me thinking that we need more information, and then the discussion with Wayne, of course, to contact you further.

WAYNE: We took it a little bit further back, I suppose you could say we pretty much run it really more as a hobby, so that we basically had training partners, so to speak, really, and had people to train with and it made a little bit of money on the side, but it was not at the time certainly not running as what we would call a business as such.

It was more, much more of a hobby. And, that's sort of, Amanda was the driving force that decided it's time to turn it into something that's a bit more than that, and make it grow. That's where we actually, where we ended up doing the ClubWorx, just to try to get better at doing things.

And then, of course, doing the podcast with yourself via ClubWorx which was quite fortuitous.

Amanda Saliba Wayne Ardley Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Martial Arts Business Case Study

GEORGE:  Cool. So at that time, business was going, was a bit of a hobby, but there's obviously this passion. So what was the big goal for you at that time? Where did you want to take the business?

AMANDA:  We just wanted more numbers. We realized what we were doing was not going to be, was not getting enough people into the doors. So we needed to attract people to us. And what I thought we were doing in terms of marketing turns out that I was not doing that. So I realized I needed some help. And lucky enough, Wayne actually got us onto ClubWorx, which is how, how we found you.

WAYNE:  If people found us, they generally stayed. We've got people that have been with us for a long time, but nobody knew we really existed, I suppose. We just did not know how to market ourselves. We put thought just putting a couple of Facebook posts out there every now and again will do the job. So obviously we had a lot to learn.

GEORGE:  Gotcha. So what did more numbers mean to you? Like, if you were able to get more numbers, what would be the impact on the business and you personally if you were able to, to do that and get that growth?

AMANDA:  So I suppose, it would be a transition from going to what we considered a hobby to a career. And even though we love what we do, we need it to be financially viable for us to be thinking we can do this, and only do this full-time and focus our full energy and passion into it. 

So it was that transition between our hobby and then saying, “We're doing this full-time.” That would be the impact on our immediate life, I suppose. Because, you know, I had two or three jobs, and Wayne worked full-time as well, so it was going to be a big shift in our lives.

WAYNE: We were devoting a lot of time already to the Club or the gym in particular at that time. And we were starting to invest a lot more money. New mats, new facilities, tried to always improve.

And it was just getting that we were outlaying a lot of money and we thought we actually need to make some more money if we want this to keep working and grow so that we can justify keeping it going as well, let alone taking it the next step, which is, of course, is becoming full-time careers for us both.

GEORGE:  100%. I mean, it's great if you have a martial arts hobby and you’ve got a lot of friends that do that as well, you know, just lay the mats out on the garage, and it's great when it's a hobby, but when the hobby is training with other people and you're taking on the expenses for more people to train, there's, there's got to be, the money's got to make sense to be able to, to continue, right?

WAYNE:  Oh, definitely. And then you've got the time commitment as well, even just as a hobby, you have to be there. If you've got a class running certain times each night, you have to be there. And that certainly interferes with other parts of your life as well. So, these are all things you've got to weigh up. And at the time, it was just getting too big that we had to make a choice whether we grow it or almost scale down. Obviously, we decided to grow and turn it into a business empire. 

Let's not go that far yet, but certainly grow it into something that could support us both as well as provide us with what we want out of a club or a gym, which really is something that's constantly evolving. And, we want a world-class type training facility with the best trainers, and that's sort of where we're, sort of… That's what we aim for. And obviously, you have to make money to be able to provide those things.

GEORGE: 100%. Let's shift from the implementation of things. So we started working together. What were the first pivotable things that you implemented that made the biggest difference right in the beginning?

AMANDA:  Which was, for us, we just went straight into your OnRamp. So I followed that program every step of the way. If there was something in that OnRamp, I was there and I was doing it. All I did was do that to the Tee and that changed us in an instant. 

And the three of us had a conversation, of course, and it was about even pricing, how we were underpricing, and trying to change our mindset about value. And what we're providing is a requirement or is valuable, and we can charge that. So changing our pricing structure, which to me was like, who's going to pay that? 

Who's going to pay that money to come and train? And then I started thinking about it, and then what we're providing and the experience of Wayne alone in coaching. I was thinking, “No, we are worth it.” And within our community, we have the most experience by far. So I was like, “No, we can charge that,” and changed our mindset to say, “We are worth all of that and more.’

So having those conversations with you and you just saying, “No, that's not good enough.” And restructuring our pricing as well, which was part of our OnRamp and the initial consultation with you.

GEORGE:  So I have to ask, right, because what you've just said is like the biggest obstacle that a lot of people struggle with, so much time invested into martial arts, all this experience, and then a lot, a lot of school owners really struggled with this and really just undervalue themselves. 

Sometimes it's from a hierarchy of martial arts leaders that are, you know, don't make money or whatever the case is, and you almost feel like you're pressured to fall under this same structure. Or it's just feeling that it's a bad thing to charge too much. There's so many things that come up with this, and so I just wanted to hammer home that point.

Is there anything bad that happened when you raised your prices and started charging what you are worth? And I'll say what you're worth because it's not just about raising your prices, it's about delivering the service that goes with it. Did anything bad happen?

AMANDA:  No, we've got more people joining.

WAYNE:  In fact, I actually would pick a small point with what you said, and I would suggest that now that I know what we've learnt from you and looking at the market and learning about business, I probably, I think we would probably still be undercharging to be honest, given what we're offering, the facilities, the training, the coaching, the experience. 

I believe we're probably still under-valuing ourselves. And it's something that we need to probably keep working on. It certainly wasn't eyeopener, up to having a few conversations with you about that and then putting it to the test.

AMANDA:  And since then, we've also increased our prices again. So within 12 months we offer a, like another package as well, and we've got people joining that package.

GEORGE:  Love it. All right, so let's wrap some numbers around that. So what outcome have you achieved with that? I think it's good for us to zoom out, right? Because sometimes we always talk about marketing and we're getting this many students and this many students, but then there's always the conversation not being had and that's numbers falling out the back. 

So, over the time that we've been working together, what difference has that made between going through the OnRamp and the pricing? If we had to wrap some numbers around that.

AMANDA:  Well, if I could go back a little bit, which was before we met you, we were only offering free trials. So the idea that someone would pay to do a paid trial seemed inconceivable in my mind. And I thought, there's no one, no one's going to pay to do a paid trial, but yet, people were just literally signing up to do a paid trial, which was like, this is crazy.

Which changed my whole view on marketing and that people would pay for a trial, whereas people don't see value in something if they're not paying for it. So when we started with you back in September of 2021, we had 67 members. Moving forward now to October of 2022, we're at 170 members. So that's an increase of 266% in net revenue in just over 13 months.

GEORGE:  Very, very cool. There was a dollar amount that you mentioned as well, with the increase.

AMANDA:  So I think it went…

WAYNE:  One of the beautiful things of ClubWorx is it graphs and keeps all these stats for us, which is really handy to keep. So sorry, we're just going to look that up for you. In the meantime, I will point out that I thought you were a snake, some charm salesman there at one point.

How on earth would people pay money for a trial where they can get it free? I think that's just crazy, but you proved me wrong. So, thank you for that.

GEORGE:  Just, just to add to the trials, I mean, I think there's definitely a place for free trial and, and I think it's always important to not focus just on the trial because a trial should never get in the way of just someone that wants to join either. But sometimes, I think markets are conditioned, you know, as a business owner you think, well, if I give it away for free, there's no obstacle.

But free normally comes with an agenda, right? Free feels like, well, especially if it's like short free, you're going to think, “Well, it's, it's really just that I've got so much time to try this thing and then I'm going to have to sign up.” And so sometimes it just feels like there's too much risk, almost free. Where, when it's paid, it takes.

There's value in the thing that you're paying for in the program even if it's just for a short time. And it feels a little more complete, that I'm actually paying for this and I'm going to get value from just what I'm paying for as well.

WAYNE:  No, it's certainly.

GEORGE:  Go for it, Amanda.

WAYNE:  Give us, give us the numbers.

AMANDA:  So within 13 months, we've gone up 190,000 in net revenue per year.

GEORGE:  Love it. So what does that mean for you in the business and for you personally?

AMANDA:  So for me, I am full-time at Phoenix Training Center. So doing the marketing side, the CRM side, running the back end, so to speak, as well as doing some coaching in the evening. We've been able to expand our business. So we've gone from one facility and extended that, so we've got another facility right next door as well.

So now, we're able to have two spaces going plus a gym, building a therapy room, and having a pro shop room being built as we speak. So our business and, and it's not just about the business, so to speak, it's about our lifestyle moving forward in the future, which is going to significantly change. And we can see this as easy to see now what the potential that we have now that we're in this position already.

WAYNE:  And just being able to offer so much more. And as I said earlier, we really wanted to grow the facility. Even though we're in what you would almost call a country town in Victoria, it's not quite, it's just on the outskirts of suburbia. But, to provide what I would try, I wouldn't class it yet as a world class facility, but we're on the way to that where the facilities are just constantly improving.

You'll be struggling to find a better facility outside of some of the big places around the world. So we're… That- that's one of the big goals there. And this is allowing us to do that. People certainly walk in, they go, “Wow, this is good when you compare it to everywhere else around us.”

GEORGE:  That's awesome. All right. Anything else to add on that? How are you feeling about all that? I mean, that's like a big moment and I recall getting the Facebook message from you saying, “I've got some good news to share with you and sharing the numbers.” How does, how do you feel about that and where you're headed?

AMANDA:  I think we feel like we've accomplished something that seems like in our mind, I, I sort of put it too, like I needed… We've got the facility, but we've got the spark, and I just need some to add a little bit of fuel and we're going to be taking off.

But I just didn't know how to quite get there, and you were sort of like the missing link that I felt like we needed. Because, you know, we've run businesses before but not like this. We know that we needed help and for us, I felt like you were the person that we needed to help us move forward and to get these results.

And there's no way I don't see how we would've gotten them without you and the support of Partners.

Amanda Saliba Wayne Ardley Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Business Case Study

WAYNE:  Realistically, we're, we're martial artists first and foremost. And like a lot of martial artists, we probably thought we knew a little bit about business, but we didn't, certainly didn't know about media and marketing and all those sorts of things. So it was a real eye-opener to realize how wrong we'd been with what we were doing.

And it was just that following the OnRamp course was sort of mind-blowing in that respect of how to do things properly. I think that's what a lot of martial artists probably need. We certainly needed that help. And I imagine that most martial artists would. We devote all our time to how to choke people and all that sort of stuff, punch them in the head.

GEORGE:  The good stuff.

WAYNE:  Probably too many punches in the head, so, but it means at the end of the day, we can't specialize in everything, and that's where you, you need to go to a specialist in something to get better at it. That's what we got. So we're pretty happy with that. This is just the start, George.

GEORGE:  That's, that's awesome. For sure. I want to say thank you, but you guys did the work and implemented without that drive, nothing happens.

WAYNE:  We actually decided early on that we're just going to follow your blueprint to the letter. It made it easier that way we could blame you if it didn't work as well. But we just followed the blueprint to the letter.

And again, not knowing any better, I think that was the best thing. We didn't try to read too much into it and said, this is what the blueprint says, let's just do it. And then we… I would often say to Amanda when she'd bring something to me and she'd been working on some advertising or whatever material and she said, “What do you think?” And I said, “Well, what would George say?” 

And I'd look at it because, and, and I start… We both started to learn what you would say when we were to send something to you, “Oh no, this is, this is this, or no, this needs to be fixed or no, that's got to be at that angle and you've got to have… what's the offer?” So things like that, your little saying Georgisms.

But, in the end where I would just say to Amanda, “What would George say?” I better go and change that. And it works.

GEORGE:  Oh, that's great. Georgisms.

WAYNE:  Yes.

GEORGE:  I'm going to have to check if that's, that's a real name that's available for one day when I'm famous. Alright, awesome. So if you could finish this sentence, we almost didn't join because…

WAYNE:  Stubbornness on my part thinking that we could do it ourselves.

AMANDA:  So thinking that we couldn't spend more money and that we couldn't afford it, thinking that we couldn't afford to invest in a coach even though we knew that we needed it, but thinking that we can do it ourselves. But like I said before, you were what we needed.

GEORGE:  All right, awesome. What's been your favorite part of working like with me and within the Partners group?

AMANDA:  You and all the other martial art owners, because I haven't really missed many of those meetings. The Hour Power that you run twice a week and then with the additional ones that you also run. I haven't really missed many and being accountable and if I get stuck within a problem, there's nearly someone in the group. 

I've never gone to a group where they're like, “Oh, no one's experienced that.”

So the experience within the group and the knowledge of the group like we are… and I am very, very grateful for, for everyone in a way, sharing and saying, “How about doing it like this?” Or, “I've been through that, try it like this.” I'm not only grateful but, but proud to be a part of it.

WAYNE:  The group is both knowledgeable but also inspiring. When you see what a lot of members of the group have achieved and what they've been through and as I and Amanda alluded to. The issues that they've faced that we've brought up to the group and they go, “Oh yeah, I've done that before. No, don't worry about that one.”

And just… it does give you a sense of purpose. I suppose to hear these people talk and listen to again, what they've been through, what they've done, how they've succeeded, and where they're now. And you sort of want to emulate that and give you that impetus or the drive to, to follow through and do, achieve what you want to achieve as well, what we want to achieve in this case.

And there are some really nice people, we've met some really great people and we've caught up with them outside of the group and chatted to them and it's been really good.

GEORGE:  That's so cool. I see you guys jetting around the country and meeting up with other members. That's awesome. Last question, Who do you recommend Partners to and why?

AMANDA:  I would say anyone that got a martial arts business and that if you think that you are not where you want to be and you want to do this full time, you need to join Partners because it's not just about George, it's about the power of the group and what the group gives back to you as well as you giving back to them.

WAYNE:  I think anyone really who's passionate about martial arts and wants to grow it and turn it into a career for themselves, definitely because it's… as I said earlier, you can't be an expert at everything and if your expertise is in martial arts, you're probably lacking in other areas like marketing, media, building websites, all these other things that the group provides the solutions for and helpful.

So no, it's really good to, for anyone who's a passionate martial arts instructor, most definitely join up.

AMANDA:  With the group, I feel like it… there's a level of comfort as well. I think when I'm there I feel like I can ask anything to the group because they've probably been through it already and I think they're going to give me not just their level of experience and knowledge, but it just feels warm within the group to be like, “Okay, I can go to this and I've got a problem or an issue or whatever,”.

They can give me a solution there and then too, because it's, it, it's live and it's interactive. And Wayne can't be there at all of them of course, because he, he, he's, he's working as well. But hopefully in the near future he won't have to do that either.

WAYNE:  That's the plan.

Amanda Saliba Wayne Ardley Martial Arts Business Case Study

GEORGE:  So on that plan, I'd love to have you guys back on the podcast and have another chat. What is the goal that we're going to celebrate on the next podcast? Let's, let's make it… let's cement it in.

AMANDA:  Look, once we get to 200, so another 30 more members, and I can't see Wayne going back to that job.

WAYNE:  It's hard to justify because of the workload… and this is one of the things we've learned through this, it's certainly not just turning up and taking a class, there's a lot of back-end. There always was. There's programming and all that sort of stuff for what was going to be taught, how it's going to be taught, all that sort of thing. 

But when you're not the only instructor on the floor and you've got multiple classes going and you're dividing things up and you've got different levels, training at different places, so you've got training instructors to deal with as well. So you've got to coach them on how they're going to coach, plus all the different stuff in the background for writing that up. Plus all the stuff that Amanda is doing with the marketing and managing all that sort of thing.

But as a number, although Amanda said 200, I reckon next time we talk, I want to be looking at least 250 preferably 300 members.

GEORGE:  Right. Done. Should we put a time and a day into it?

AMANDA:  Originally when I had a vision with you. So we sat down for 10 minutes. You and I, we wrote through setting some goals and I've still got it in my three-year plan, so to speak. And in 12 months, our plan was to have 140 members, which was on average two per week, and we're now at 170, so we're smashing our own personal goals. And in two years it was supposed to be 250, but I can do well…I believe that we will be able to beat that.

GEORGE:  Love it.

AMANDA:  So creating goals and making them short term and then hitting them all the time so it doesn't seem so daunting is, for my mind, it works for me. So short-term goals to long-term goals, breaking them down, having a clear vision, and then just going for it.

WAYNE:  And hopefully, by the next podcast we'll be a little bit more relaxed because this is actually quite daunting as well.

GEORGE: We'll just have to have you on more often. And then it's… everybody knows I've got an edit button because I need to be edited the most. So it's all good.

Amanda, Wayne, thanks, thanks so much for being on and congratulations again, love watching your success evolve and, really look forward to catching up again and chatting about the next milestone.

WAYNE:  Thank you. Looking forward to it as well, George.

AMANDA:  Thanks, George, and thanks for everything you've done for us.

WAYNE:  It's been really good.

GEORGE:  Thank you.

WAYNE:  Bye-bye.

GEORGE:  Thanks so much for tuning in. Did you enjoy the show? Did you get some value from it? If so, please, please do us a favor and share it with someone you care about. Share it with another martial arts school owner or an instructor friend that might benefit from this episode.

And I'd love to hear from you if you got some good value out of it and you just want to reach out, send me a message on Instagram. My handle is George Fourie, G-E-O-R-G-E, last name, F-O-U-R-I-E. And just send me a message, and I'd love to hear from you if you've got some value from this. 

And last but not least, if you need some help growing your martial arts school, need help with attracting the right students or increasing your signups, or retaining more members, then get in touch with us. Go to our website,, and we've got a short little questionnaire that just asks a few questions about your business to give us an idea of what it is that you have going on.

And then typically from that, we jump on a quick 10, 15-minute call just to work out if or how we can be of help. Not a sales call, it's really a fit and discovery call for us to get an idea if we can be of help. And that's that, we'd love to hear from you and I'll see you in the next episode. Cheers.


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Broadly speaking, we use personal information for purposes of administering our business activities, providing customer service and making available other items and services to our customers and prospective customers.

will not obtain personally-identifying information about you when you visit our site, unless you choose to provide such information to us, nor will such information be sold or otherwise transferred to unaffiliated third parties without the approval of the user at the time of collection.

We may disclose information when legally compelled to do so, in other words, when we, in good faith, believe that the law requires it or for the protection of our legal rights.

Email Policies

We are committed to keeping your e-mail address confidential. We do not sell, rent, or lease our subscription lists to third parties, and we will not provide your personal information to any third party individual, government agency, or company at any time unless strictly compelled to do so by law.

We will use your e-mail address solely to provide timely information about .

We will maintain the information you send via e-mail in accordance with applicable federal law.

CAN-SPAM Compliance

Our site provides users the opportunity to opt-out of receiving communications from us and our partners by reading the unsubscribe instructions located at the bottom of any e-mail they receive from us at anytime.

Users who no longer wish to receive our newsletter or promotional materials may opt-out of receiving these communications by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.


Our site provides users the opportunity to opt-out of receiving communications from us and our partners by reading the unsubscribe instructions located at the bottom of any e-mail they receive from us at anytime. Users who no longer wish to receive our newsletter or promotional materials may opt-out of receiving these communications by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.

Use of External Links

All copyrights, trademarks, patents and other intellectual property rights in and on our website and all content and software located on the site shall remain the sole property of or its licensors. The use of our trademarks, content and intellectual property is forbidden without the express written consent from .

You must not:

Acceptable Use

You agree to use our website only for lawful purposes, and in a way that does not infringe the rights of, restrict or inhibit anyone else”s use and enjoyment of the website. Prohibited behavior includes harassing or causing distress or inconvenience to any other user, transmitting obscene or offensive content or disrupting the normal flow of dialogue within our website.

You must not use our website to send unsolicited commercial communications. You must not use the content on our website for any marketing related purpose without our express written consent.

Restricted Access

We may in the future need to restrict access to parts (or all) of our website and reserve full rights to do so. If, at any point, we provide you with a username and password for you to access restricted areas of our website, you must ensure that both your username and password are kept confidential.

Use of Testimonials

In accordance to with the FTC guidelines concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising, please be aware of the following:

Testimonials that appear on this site are actually received via text, audio or video submission. They are individual experiences, reflecting real life experiences of those who have used our products and/or services in some way. They are individual results and results do vary. We do not claim that they are typical results. The testimonials are not necessarily representative of all of those who will use our products and/or services.

The testimonials displayed in any form on this site (text, audio, video or other) are reproduced verbatim, except for correction of grammatical or typing errors. Some may have been shortened. In other words, not the whole message received by the testimonial writer is displayed when it seems too lengthy or not the whole statement seems relevant for the general public.

is not responsible for any of the opinions or comments posted on is not a forum for testimonials, however provides testimonials as a means for customers to share their experiences with one another. To protect against abuse, all testimonials appear after they have been reviewed by management of . doe not share the opinions, views or commentary of any testimonials on – the opinions are strictly the views of the testimonial source.

The testimonials are never intended to make claims that our products and/or services can be used to diagnose, treat, cure, mitigate or prevent any disease. Any such claims, implicit or explicit, in any shape or form, have not been clinically tested or evaluated.

How Do We Protect Your Information and Secure Information Transmissions?

Email is not recognized as a secure medium of communication. For this reason, we request that you do not send private information to us by email. However, doing so is allowed, but at your own risk. Some of the information you may enter on our website may be transmitted securely via a secure medium known as Secure Sockets Layer, or SSL. Credit Card information and other sensitive information is never transmitted via email.

may use software programs to create summary statistics, which are used for such purposes as assessing the number of visitors to the different sections of our site, what information is of most and least interest, determining technical design specifications, and identifying system performance or problem areas.

For site security purposes and to ensure that this service remains available to all users, uses software programs to monitor network traffic to identify unauthorized attempts to upload or change information, or otherwise cause damage.

Disclaimer and Limitation of Liability

makes no representations, warranties, or assurances as to the accuracy, currency or completeness of the content contain on this website or any sites linked to this site.

All the materials on this site are provided “as is” without any express or implied warranty of any kind, including warranties of merchantability, noninfringement of intellectual property or fitness for any particular purpose. In no event shall or its agents or associates be liable for any damages whatsoever (including, without limitation, damages for loss of profits, business interruption, loss of information, injury or death) arising out of the use of or inability to use the materials, even if has been advised of the possibility of such loss or damages.

Policy Changes

We reserve the right to amend this privacy policy at any time with or without notice. However, please be assured that if the privacy policy changes in the future, we will not use the personal information you have submitted to us under this privacy policy in a manner that is materially inconsistent with this privacy policy, without your prior consent.

We are committed to conducting our business in accordance with these principles in order to ensure that the confidentiality of personal information is protected and maintained.


If you have any questions regarding this policy, or your dealings with our website, please contact us here:

Martial Arts Media™
Suite 218
5/115 Grand Boulevard
Joondalup WA

Email: team (at) martialartsmedia dot com

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